A fascinating, appealingly written history of an iconic American amusement.

THE MONOPOLISTS

OBSESSION, FURY, AND THE SCANDAL BEHIND THE WORLD'S FAVORITE BOARD GAME

In her debut, New York Times sports reporter Pilon deftly explores the origin of the Monopoly board game.

For as much enjoyment and strategic suspense as the game inspires in its players, the author reports on its flip side: Monopoly’s problematic, serpentine roots. Inventor Lizzie Magie, an outspoken Washington, D.C., stenographer and activist, based her “Landlord’s Game” on personal progressive political views and those of 19th-century politician, economist and “magnetic leader” Henry George and his radical “single tax theory.” Yet, as the author notes, Magie’s name would soon become disassociated from the game. Charles Darrow, an unemployed salesman, would eventually take credit for Monopoly’s creation with his own controversial appropriation of the game and, with its blockbuster success, rescue a near-bankrupt Parker Brothers Company. Pilon also explores the work of competitive Parker rival Milton Bradley, and she looks at later appropriations of Monopoly in the early 1930s. It’s certainly surprising how Darrow and Parker Brothers were able to receive a patent for Monopoly “given the two Landlord’s Game patents that had come before it.” Sketchier still were Parker Brothers swift payoffs to creators of pre-Darrow Monopoly game incarnations (including Magie). However, the intrigue and litigious melodramatics hardly end there, as more questions on the authenticity of Parker’s version of the game continued to surface. Pilon invests this surprisingly contentious chronicle with a dynamic mix of journalistic knowledge and subtle wit, adding a compelling chapter on a San Francisco economics professor’s invention of the “Anti-Monopoly Game,” which drew the ire of Parker Brothers and incited even more antagonistic trademark-infringement lawsuits. Contemporary gamers interested in exploring the early genesis of their pastime will find Pilon to be a readable, entertaining tour guide.

A fascinating, appealingly written history of an iconic American amusement.

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60819-963-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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